Data Protection for Healthcare Providers: A Matter of Life and Death


Data loss and breaches can cost businesses plenty in terms of lost productivity, lost revenue, damage to the brand, and expensive recovery efforts. But for healthcare providers, the stakes are even higher. Failure to adequately protect clinical and patient data literally could cost lives.

In the seven years since the federal government began offering incentives to healthcare providers to use electronic health records (EHRs), adoption has skyrocketed. In 2008, only 9.4% of U.S. hospitals had some kind of EHR system; by 2014, that climbed to 76%, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. In that same time frame, EHR adoption by private practices nearly doubled.

While storing most or all patient data electronically offers substantial clinical and operational benefits, it also introduces two kinds of risk. First, data can become lost or inaccessible if electrical outages or natural disasters destroy provider data centers. When clinicians lack information about patients—regarding severe allergies to certain medications, for example—the results can be fatal.

Second, data stored digitally can be hacked, hijacked, or stolen, exposing patients’ medical, personal, and financial information and leaving providers vulnerable to ransomware attempts.

Indeed, healthcare systems are the top target of hackers these days. In a recent survey by the Heath Information and Management Systems Society, more than half of the hospital executives said their hospitals had been the target of a ransomware attempt in the past year.

As hospitals and private practices become even more reliant on EHRs, they must deploy comprehensive strategies and solutions to ensure that patient medical records, financial data, and identities are backed up and secured in the event of minor incidents, major disasters, and malicious individuals.

An effective data protection strategy for healthcare providers should include two crucial elements:

 Automated, cloud-based backup. By having patient data automatically copied to off-site cloud storage facilities, providers can still have access to critical medical information should their EHRs be knocked offline by a hurricane or held ransom by hackers.

A disaster recovery plan and partner. When things go wrong, proper preparation can avert permanent disaster. But just as patients should rely on medical professionals for healthcare, hospitals and private practices should partner with an experienced disaster recovery services provider.

EHRs can offer healthcare providers easy and quick access to patient medical records, and in the long run should improve healthcare by enabling data sharing and collaboration among physicians and nurses. Thus, healthcare providers have a responsibility to make protecting patient data a top priority. Fortunately, the tools are there.

Acronis provides an extensive range of solutions and services to help protect valuable data. The Acronis Data Protection Platform includes cloud and local backup that works on multiple operating systems, system provisioning, storage and disk management, and the Acronis Disaster Recovery Service.

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